New Years Goals, Part 2

Last week, I started posting my New Years goals and intentions. Since I have many, I’m doing this in segments. I’m sharing these publicly because I like the accountability and I also hope that these thoughts might be helpful to others.

I preach all day long to others to not assign too much importance on “likes” or “favorites” on social media, but to instead follow their own gut and heart when they create. I’m more and more convinced that a downside of social media is monotony. I believe in people discovering their their own unique voice which is impossible to do if you’re chasing likes instead of focusing on self-critique and mindfulness. Art is about our unique journey, not the arrival. I am always reminding myself of this. I promise you that the more validation through likes you find, the more addictive that validation will become. My goal is to engage MORE in social media, but to evaluate the results of my engagement in less self-critical terms. I’m going to try to be more authentic, more honest, and more open by sharing what I love and letting the chips fall where they may. I want to try new things and I love to struggle and feel uncertain in my art. I think it’s why I fear teaching. Everything I do seems like it could be a failure and I struggle to make it feel successful to me. There is no formula. But I think more than ever, this might be important to share with a community that feels destination-driven. Art should not be comfortable and easy, but the process should feel satisfying, especially when something DOES come together in the end in a special way.

Well, this is embarrassing, but I feel it’s important to share: Since having Vivi, I’ve struggled emotionally. Could be hormones, could be anxiety, could be postpartum depression, could be residual PTSD from nearly losing her when I went into labor at 24 weeks. When I was on bedrest, I was put on one anti-depressant. It helped me better cope with those long weeks of fear but I was still struggling with anxiety. The obsessive worrying was limiting my ability to focus and get work done. This was making me feel overwhelmed. As I tried harder and harder to catch up and wasn’t able to, I felt angry with myself. A vicious cycle of anxiety, self-loathing, and depression developed. Thankfully, in August, I had a moment of clarity and realized that this wasn’t OK. Honestly, I do not enjoy going on medication for mental illness. There are so many stigmas that still exist. However, I saw someone and was put on a different medication that helped me control both the depression and the anxiety. The results have been incredible. I can’t express how much not living with constant, overwhelming anxiety and the depression that accompanies it has done for my life, art, family and general productivity. So my goal is to share this with others, so they know they are not alone if they are suffering. It can get better. Stop shaming yourself for not being strong enough, fast enough, good enough. The self-shaming nearly put me under. Sometimes it’s not enough just to focus on the good, on what you are grateful for, to get busier, to try harder, to get more exercise. I sincerely tried it all but the game-changer for ME was seeking medical help. And being honest with my doctor that the first medication wasn’t cutting it. You and your happiness and well-being are worth this investment of time and money. My goal is to remember my own words and keep myself mentally healthy by doing all the things I need to do: Self-care, exercise, eating healthy, prioritizing family and friends, feeling grateful  — while staying on my medication (prozac) is essential to me having a good and successful 2019.

The images I’m sharing in this post were shot or edited this week as a part of my 365 project. I’m not sharing the iPhone shots and edits today, but if you’re interested you can find them on my 365 IG account.

Lastly, I had the honor of being chosen the Artist of the Year by the World’s Best Photographers & Artists Group. If you’d like to read the interview, I’m including it here. I deeply appreciate the constant support, encouragement and inspiration of my peers in this community. Thank you!

Happy New Year!

I feel like I could do a whole month full of blog posts about all my goals and resolutions for this year. And I might! I have an ambitious agenda. I’m EXCITED.

I’m going to share some of my thoughts in installments, in no particular order, but break them apart in small chunks so I don’t overwhelm myself and quit, so look for a new post next week 🙂

GOAL ONE: I’m going to be pushing myself to do a 365 project. I intend to shoot, edit and post once a day, every day. Now it may not all be the same image (for example, I may shoot an image on Monday, edit an image from the previous Thursday and post a finished — but unpublished — image from the previous day). I’ve created a new Instagram purely for this purpose, to keep that work separate from my normal images. At one week in, here is where I’m at:

GOAL TWO: Shooting in the moment.
Backstory: Here in Southern California the leaves just really began turning colors and falling right before Christmas… at least in my little corner of SoCal. I was driving home and saw my neighbor’s yard. Two golden trees, golden leaves puddled on the ground, an antique light-post, tiny Christmas lights strung around one of their trees. ***Instant inspiration!*** Now this sort of thing happens to me often, I’ll see something I’ve seen a million times before, but one day I will see it differently and think: Aha!” The down-side is that *usually* I tend to put off actually getting around to that inspiration because I have some other, more urgently needed thing I feel I need to do….(these kids and their darn demands to be regularly fed…sigh!) And then I forget it or the moment never truly repeats itself.

This year, I’m going to make time to act on my impulses. This shot took literally 3 minutes to take. It was all there, I just needed to make the image a priority in my schedule. I’m challenging myself not to wait, not to see if I can improve upon something, not to waiver and delay but in those perfect words of the Nike campaign: Just Do It.

More of my Goals in next week’s blog post 🙂

Seeking Balance in Life and Photography

OK. So. Moment of truth here…
I am struggling. It’s been 21 months since I had my baby and I really thought I would have achieved some sort of work/life balance by now. It’s distressing to see the days flying off the calendar. My To-Do list seems to be growing at the same rate as my laundry pile (which is truly horrifying). Obviously my priorities are 1) My family; and 2) My work… But somewhere after priorities 1 & 2, I’ve gotten confused regarding how to balance the remaining 10,000 other things vying for my attention.

With all these other “should-dos” and “must-dos”, it’s been tricky to fit me into my own schedule.

I need to do self-care stuff like exercise, eat healthy, lose the extra baby weight, put on make up, lighten up on the dry shampoo, stop with the messy bun, brush my hair, make sure my clothes match, stop eating Hot Pockets while answering emails, blah, blah, blah… The truth is I’ve just not been able to get my head into *myself* on a regular basis. Most days I feel like a hot mess who is wildly in love with her business and family but who looks a little like a train just hit her… As a perfectionist, it’s hard to forgive myself for these inadequacies. I’m doing my best even if right now “my best” looks pretty imperfect.

So, with this as the backstory, it’s no surprise I’ve not been in a ton of pictures because I don’t totally love the new look I’ve established for myself… Fast forward to this past weekend, when I went out with my husband and kids so our boys could practice baseball. I sat in the outfield with Viv and took a few shots of her and the boys. My oldest was out retrieving some of the balls he’d hit our way. I asked him to take a picture of me and the baby since she was being so cuddly. There were some shots of me looking at the camera, but at some point, my middle son started hitting again and wanted me to watch him. That moment lead to this shot, and I decided to edit it. It’s kind of a “nothing” picture but is pretty special to me for all these reasons…

Sweet baby and I, cuddling in the outfield, captured by my son.

As I wrote this post, it occurred to me that this is one way in which I do prioritize myself…

I take photos and edit photos and then share them on social media.

Interacting with other artists, taking about my passion, showing off my growing kids, seeking to transform the mundane to the magical… It’s a joy. It’s ME time. I step out of both mom and business owner mode for a little bit and get to be a part of a community of artists. Even if only one other person shares my excitement, I feel like I have a kindred spirit out there, and a connection is made.*

I have two passions: Family and Art. For years I’ve flirted with how to separate these passions for the sake of better social media performance. But it’s just too much. At least at this point in my life. I do not have the most organized, cohesive social media portfolio. My brain gets tugged in different directions and I’m not willing to edit myself in regard to what subjects and styles intrigue me. Some days I want to document my kids, some days I want to create fairytales…but where I AM consistent is that I make myself happy by creating and sharing art every day. I am as passionate as I was back in art school. I am as excited as the day I bought my first camera. When it comes to art, I focus on doing exactly what feels “right” to me. I follow that passion. While it may be true that social media doesn’t reward portfolios that are all over the place stylistically, I didn’t become an artist to have anyone dictate anything to me, especially not a stupid algorithm. So in that spirit, here are a few images of my kids and my dogs. These are my beloved anchors who give me the inspiration and emotional fuel to create the other things (when they aren’t making me crazy). Next week I’ll be back to fairytales but for now, this feels like self-care.

One of my two ball players.

Little Miss, exploring the world.

Excited baby, eagerly watching for her brothers to come home.

Toddler + Dogs. Endlessly amusing.

For any who might be interested…

The majority of the images here were shot with the Canon 5Dsr and Tamron 85mm 1.8 and Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 lenses. The images were edited with the new releases: Illuminations Instant Overlay Actions, Vol. 2, Lightscaping Instant Overlay Actions and Green Tone Correction Actions.

* Want to connect more? Here is a link to my newsletter, my Facebook users group, and also my BRAND-NEW Flickr Group. I’m hoping that Flickr under new management can be the fun and artistically rewarding place to share art that it once was. I’m prioritizing Wednesday mornings for Flickr image sharing.

New Years Resolve: Photography, Social Media and Finding Purpose in 2018

Happy New Year!

Recently, I took a step back from social media to consider what was important to create and what was worth-while to share, both in photography and in life… Proper perspective in both is everything.

My New Year’s resolution for 2018 is to be bold. With Facebook algorithm changes, an intense political landscape, a new family dynamic including a high-schooler and a baby, gaining weight (and not losing it) from the pregnancy… Well, it all manifested in me feeling a uncertain.

And social media magnifies insecurities.

Since having my baby, it’s been hard for me to shake off the trolling comments. I will never understand the need by some to be needlessly hostile, but I have to assume that times are hard for many, especially around the holidays. Happy people do not go out of their way to insult another’s art or their baby’s appearance. Honestly, I’m lucky — the vast majority of those who interact with me are extremely kind. It’s funny how out of a hundred compliments, I will reel from one stranger’s put-down. Unfortunately, the mean-spirited comments (whether about my photography or my family) tempted me to hide the things I loved to share most. But I soon discovered that not posting wasn’t the answer either. I’m an artist and specifically, a portrait photographer. I create to interact. I want to share images and ideas, tell stories and hear them.

The bottom line is that I can complain and retreat or I can change my reaction and response. The goal this year is to find opportunities in any situation, seek the positive, overcome the distraction, be transparent and unapologetic in pursuing a productive, healthy and meaningful 2018.

Whatever your goal, I wish you the best. I truly believe that art can bring positive change, both for its creator and its viewer. I wish you the power to change the lives of yourself and others for the better this year. Photography is a passion worth fighting for.

This photograph was taken indoors (in my dining room actually, lol), using window light, using a white board to help reflect a little light back onto my subjects. It is intentionally edited to be dark and dramatic. I used the processing tools  JD Looking Glass Cool presets in ACR, JD Dark Splendor Actions and finished with hand edits in Photoshop.

The Inspired Series: Marta Everest

One of the best things about being someone who creates tools for other artists is seeing how they integrate them in unique and exciting ways. My goal in creating products is simply to offer tools to help people express themselves creatively by giving them options. My products are designed to be highly customizable so artists can develop signature looks while still saving time and offering fresh tools to inspire.

In case you didn’t know, I have a Facebook user’s group, Beautiful World Actions, Overlays and Textures by Jessica Drossin, which is not limited to simply Beautiful World products, but instead is open to everyone who uses any of my products in their edits. It’s a safe place to learn, get inspired, request constructive criticism (key word being “constructive” and ONLY if you ask for it!), and share your work with like-minded artists.

My goal is to highlight a user every month whose work can inspire others. To kick things off this month, I’d like to introduce you to the work of Marta Everest. Marta’s work is truly unique and beautiful, with a old-world look more like a painting than a photo. Marta’s gorgeous use of light and subdued use of color transports me to another world. She uses textures differently than I do and I hugely admire how she manages to show boldness, but also restraint, in how she integrates them into her workflow.

I hope you enjoy this interview and the fantastic work of Marta Everest as much as I do.


Marta Everest - 2

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background? How did you become interested in photography and what lead you to using textures in your portrait work?
A: I was born and raised in Sevilla, Spain in a very loving family that I always thank God for. I moved to the United States soon after I got married in 1998 and in 2004 we decided to move back to Spain to start a new life and raise our children. Today, I’m the mother of 5 wonderful children that mean the world to me. I became interested in portrait photography in 2002 when a photo of my oldest daughter won the 1st place at the American Baby Contest and then another photo won 2nd place the following year. I felt I had a good shot in the portrait photography world so I just pursued and followed my dream. I bought my first digital camera and my first editing software in 2007, totally clueless on what to do with it. I didn’t discover textures until a few years later and I just found myself immediately driven to them. Today they’re an essential tool in helping me create a story.

Marta Everest - 3
Marta Everest - 4

Q: Can you describe your process a bit? How do you select which texture to use? What mode do you blend them with? Do you apply them at the beginning or end of the edit?
A: I start all my RAW editing process in Lightroom before adding the last finishing touches in Photoshop. Once in PS the first thing I do is to apply different actions and tints to the photo until I find just the perfect tone that I’m aiming for and I adjust the opacity if necessary. Sometimes I also like adding a cyan color filter to some of my images to reduce warmth. Once the tone it’s been applied the search for the perfect texture begins. I usually aim for the same textures all the time (cool tone ones are my favorite) simply because I’m more familiar with them and they blend really well with the skin so I don’t need to remove any of it. When I find the right texture I simply apply it using a soft light blending mode and last I just do the necessary adjustments in the curve panel until the image looks pleasing to the eye, and not too contrasty.

Marta Everest - 5
Marta Everest - 7

Q: The photos of your children are so beautiful! How do you make them feel so timeless? Do you purely use natural light?
A: My goal is to keep my work fundamentally simple, but at the same time, I strive for an artistic feel to it, something evocative and imperishable. With the help of a single softbox (no flash) and in a confined space (my house small living room) I’m able to create the perfect scene for all my photos.

Marta Everest - 8
Marta Everest - 9

Q: What sorts of emotions or ideas do you hope to communicate in your images? What inspires and influences your artistic decisions?
A: I want my photos to be able to tell a beautiful story from long long ago and sometimes I just want them to be a reflection of something that the children enjoy doing when they’re at home, without the use of too many props. Just the moment and a soft light. Where do I find my inspiration? I find it in some of the old master paintings (Rembrandt, Vermeer…) and even Morgan Weistling. He’s an amazing artist!! and sometimes I look for inspiration in a children’s book, a movie, or even classical music can inspire me.

Marta Everest - 10

Q: What JD product could you recommend to others who might be inspired by your work?
A: If I could recommend a product it would definitely be any of the JD Beautiful World Tints and the JD Illumination Textures 2 or Beautiful World Textures.


Marta Everest’s work can be found here.

Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest on ViewBug: Winners Announced

Thank you to all the photographers that shared their best fine art portraiture photos in this photo contest!


People’s Choice – Photo by RussElkins

Simple Man by RussElkins - Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest


Grand Jury Winner – Photo by JamesOliverConnolly

Sailor Smoke by JamesOliverConnolly - Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest

“First of all, hats off to amazing portraits of men in a category too often dominated by portrait of women and children. This portrait hinted at a story I kept coming back to, wondering if I could decipher a clue to the character in that smoke, a hidden message in this deep and enigmatic portrait. I admire the muted, moody color palette and the intricacies and details included in this work. Excellent, original, and engaging vision and execution.” – Jessica Drossin


Amateur Winner – Photo by marygracedelapen

Jesper by marygracedelapena - Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest

“Once again, I was very impressed by a powerful, playful portrait with the depth, intimacy and quality that would be worthy of inclusion in a Vanity Fair portrait profile. Love the rich, warm tones, the detail, the intriguing pose and intense expression. Exceptional work!” – Jessica Drossin


Runner Up – Photo by SheridansArt

Forlorn by SheridansArt - Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest

“Outstanding use of color and light to convey emotion. The details are breathtaking and the otherworldly calm and beauty is mesmerizing. The portrait feels fresh and relevant but also harkens back to portrait paintings by the old masters. Sublime.” – Jessica Drossin


Runner Up – Photo by johnwood

Musician writing in his thoughts by johnwood - Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest

“I love the lighting and mood conveyed in this seeming candid capture of an artist contemplating his craft. I love the non-traditional choice of model and the story this portrait suggests.” – Jessica Drossin


Runner Up – Photo by francescorizzato

Those eyes by francescorizzato - Fine Art Portraiture Photo Contest

“What a stunning portrait, I adore the color choices and the fact that even though there is a lot going on here, my eyes never stray for long from the amazing eyes of the subject.” – Jessica Drossin


Congratulations to the Grand Jury, Amateur and People’s Choice Winner, who will receive respectively a $200, $100 and $50 Gift Coupon towards any product in my store!